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Sylvia Waters

Artistic Director Emerita, Ailey II

Sylvia Waters began her dance studies in junior high and earned her Bachelor of Science in Dance from The Julliard School. As a professional dancer, she toured in the European company of Black Nativity, as well as in Donald McKayle’s Black New World. She also worked with Maurice Béjart’s company in Brussels and at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. As a member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ms. Waters toured the globe as a principal dancer before shifting her focus to Ailey II when Alvin Ailey chose her to become the artistic director. She is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the State University of New York at Oswego and The Juilliard School. She has received a “Bessie” Award, the Legacy Award as part of the 20th Annual IABD Festival, Syracuse University’s Women of Distinction Award, and the prestigious Dance Magazine Award. Ms. Waters served on panels including the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Princess Grace Awards. Currently, she leads The Ailey Legacy Residency, a lecture, technique, and repertory program for college-level students that looks definitively into the history and creative heritage of Alvin Ailey. She is also a consultant to the Ailey Archives.

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